Serving the Least of These

I’’ve just returned from a very busy, life-changing two weeks in Ethiopia filming for our pro-life TV show, Facing Life Head-On. The goal of this trip was to show how people in struggling countries face unimaginable hurdles, yet still choose life. What we experienced was nothing short of miraculous.

Our first stop was the Living Hope Maternity Home. It was founded by Dinah and Mike Monahan, owners of Heritage House 76, best known for their ten-week baby feet pins. Living Hope provides a safe and peaceful environment for 12 young girls and their babies. It is an ideal haven for people like me who adore babies and want to love on them. The young mothers, often shunned in society, were happy to have their children be the center of attention.

Ethiopian society does not tolerate pregnancy out of wedlock. Most often the girl is abandoned by her family, even if the pregnancy resulted from rape. One girl worked as a nanny for a family and was raped by the father. When she got pregnant, both the husband and wife kicked her out onto the streets. The law provided no justice.

It’s important to understand that there’s no government safety net for the poor and needy in Ethiopia. They’re totally on their own. As a result, many girls resort to legal prostitution to survive. Some of the babies I held were the product of prostitution, but just as precious in God’s sight as you or I.

The goals of the Living Hope program are what you’d expect: to see that the girls got medical attention during their pregnancies, accompany them through labor and delivery, and teach them how to take care of their babies and themselves. They also equip the girls to be able to make a living and support themselves and their children. An important piece of the equation is that they share the love of Christ with every girl. They attend church together and grow in their faith.

We also traveled to one of the poorest areas where the Christian group, Youth With a Mission (YWAM) is operating. Their goal is to help the poor while sharing the love of Jesus. There, at a small crude church—a blessing to surrounding neighbors—I interviewed 8 elderly widows, most of whom in the past had combed through the local dump for daily food to sustain themselves and their grandchildren abandoned by the parents.

The crew and I will never look at life the same after talking with these elderly women. Now, sponsored by caring Americans thanks to YWAM, they have the very basic necessities of shelter, food and clothing. When I asked them what their biggest current need was, most responded that they had Jesus, food and a home. They needed nothing more.

Most memorable was Aselefich, an elderly woman in a tiny and filthy dirt-floor room. I held her fingerless hands which were long ago eaten by Leprosy. A broken hip, with no subsequent medical care, caused her to be bedridden the past 18 years. She repeatedly expressed her joy that I would come to talk with her and that she was so thankful for the assistance of loving Americans. But, still sadly, she felt unworthy of their love.

Our final filming was conducted at a rare Ethiopian-style nursing home called Mecadonia. The founder, Binyam Belete, spent 6 years in America but felt compelled to return to Ethiopia and reach out to the most desperate and shunned segment of society. Binyam turned his boyhood home into a facility that currently houses 150 individuals and is totally run by 35 volunteers, including a journalist who I interviewed.

They literally go out into the streets and pick these people up out of the filthy gutter or their makeshift shanties, wash them, clothe them, give them something to eat and permanently house them. This sounds very similar to Scripture in Matthew 25:34-40. As we toured Mecadonia, we saw many elderly people and individuals of various ages with Down syndrome, autism or variations of mental disabilities.

The mission of Mecadonia is to first love these individuals, because without love, other acts of kindness would be in vain. This philosophy was evident everywhere we looked. One of the patients I interviewed tearfully told me that when he was at his lowest and loneliest time, they picked him up from the streets and brought him in. I asked him what was the best gift they gave him, and his animated reply was, “They gave me a family again!”

It’s been a busy and tiring two weeks, but well worth the effort. I invite you to view our photos that truly capture some powerful images from our trip. The crew and I greatly benefited from our encounters with the wonderful people of Ethiopia whom we consider to be our brothers and sisters in Christ. We hope and pray that these television programs will touch the hearts of Americans to “adopt” young girls and elderly widows who are facing critical, life-threatening situations.

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Bradley Mattes
President, Life Issues Institute

Life Issues Institute is dedicated to changing hearts and minds of millions of people through education. For 27 years, organizations and individuals around the world have depended upon Life Issues Institute to provide the latest information and effective tools to protect innocent human life from womb to tomb.

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